Stay Hydrated this Summer
The importance of staying hydrated this summer.
Updated: Tuesday 17 November 2020
Water, like food and air, is essential for life. On average, it makes up 60% of the human body and 85% of the brain. Water regulates metabolism, signal transmission, energy distribution and tissue nourishment. Without it, our organs would not function correctly, including those associated with digestion, exercise, sleep, and excretion.
Why we need Water
H2O has a role in several body functions; ferrying oxygen to cells of the body and making sure they live up to their potential. Water in the blood brings oxygen to the muscles, lengthening the amount of time an athlete can exercise, thereby building and toning the muscles and helps keep them elastic for easier contraction. It also lubricates joints, relieving any joint pain and can even reduce the risk of arthritis and gout.
Also, drinking the necessary amount of water prevents the survival technique of fluid retention, which causes feet, hands and legs to swell as water is trapped in extracellular spaces when the body tries to salvage all possible water sources.
One of the more important functions of water is to eliminate toxins from the body. This is done through sweat – in which salt, ammonia, urea, lactate and other toxins are flushed out through the sweat glands in the skin while larger molecules such as urea, uric acid and creatinine are eliminated through urine. Having several points of expulsion helps ease the workload off the kidneys, preventing the formation of kidney stones by diluting the minerals before discharging them. In addition, excreting water through pores in the skin regulates the body temperature.
Hydrate the proper way
Nutritionists once recommended drinking roughly eight glasses of water a day, a general rule that may not apply to all given their size, gender and level of activity. The current guidelines say we should drink water when we are thirsty.
Throughout the day, we become dehydrated through sweat, tears, activity and breathing. The kidneys gauge and regulate the water levels and when the body requires fluid replacement, it signals the brain, which manifests as a feeling of thirst and prompts us to drink.
Unlike animals, humans are at a disadvantage. We can’t use saltwater and quenching our thirst with nothing but sodas and energy drinks is a catastrophic error: they are liquid sugar and dehydrate us more than they benefit. We are dependent on fresh and clean water for our daily activities.
Although H2O is vital, we also need to replenish the electrolyte levels for essential chemicals including sodium and potassium needed for signal transmission in cells. These are lost in sweat when we increase our exercise levels or when outdoor temperatures increase. Coconut water is rich in potassium and is a good option to boost electrolytes alongside plain water.
Balance is key
Everything should be taken in moderation and the same applies to water. A surplus amount, exceeding the daily guideline or drunk too rapidly is also unhealthy, either causing water intoxication or a severe lack of salt with detrimental consequences.
So what happens if you are thirsty all the time? There are several reasons that could be causing you to over-drink water, including too much salt in your diet, sweating excessively due to heat or activities, diabetes, dry mouth, certain medications and overestimating the amount of water you have had to drink today.
Assess the situation and if you find that your thirst concerning, see a doctor. Otherwise, nourish your cells with a natural moisturizer, all-round functionality-booster with zero calories, and drink up!
Authored by Iris Barbier
Born in France, Iris moved to the UK to study Biological Sciences at London Metropolitan University. Upon graduating, Iris moved up north, where she completed an MA in Science Journalism at the University of Lincoln.
As a qualified science journalist, Iris uses her expertise to write content for Pharmica’s online Health Centre. She ensures our patients get specialist knowledge on medical conditions and how to treat them.